We’ve been through the wringer this year. January started off strong. And then everyone’s lives were thrown off track with the pandemic. We ventured into unknown territory with people losing their jobs and businesses unsure of what to do. In many cases, they still don’t.
The business can keep moving but without the same track record as the previous year.
This year I implemented Objectives and Key Results (OKRs). I first learned about it from reading Measure What Matters by John Doerr (affiliate link) – which was on my reading list. It’s the first time I’m doing OKRs with lots of room to improve.
There were three areas where I applied OKRs. First being my side-hustle, Packet6. The second is this site where you’re reading this now, rowelldionicio.com. And the third is Clear To Send, a Wi-Fi podcast I co-host with François Vergès.
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I ended 2019 with the best year ever. I wanted to build upon that success, but the world changed around March of 2020. I had to pivot.
Objective: Build a national business
Packet6 started locally in the San Francisco Bay Area. As soon as I started working with companies maintaining a presence across the United States, I began getting clients in other cities.
Increase my revenue to $900k. The pandemic definitely limited my reach outside of the Bay Area. Most of my local clients maintain carpeted office space. With a shift to working from home, there were no office Wi-Fi needs. Travel was limited significantly and on a case by case basis. So, therefore, I shifted my efforts to warehouse and laboratory Wi-Fi. For comparison, Packet6 generated $727k in revenue for 2019. This year-to-date, it is $240k, a 67% decrease.
To reach $900k in revenue, I aimed to increase sales growth by 10% quarter-over-quarter. The first two quarters weren’t profitable. But in Q3 and Q4, I was able to make over 10% sales growth. But not enough to reach my previous years’ revenue target.
If I were to increase sales growth, I decided to decrease expenses by 25%. A pandemic can really make you second guess those expenditures. I was able to go beyond this goal and reduce costs by 73%.
Objective: Increase marketing qualified leads
Marketing is a weak area of mine, but I enjoy learning how marketing works, testing various methods, and seeing what does and doesn’t work. My focus on this objective was to bring in leads through content marketing.
Obtain 20 leads through email marketing. A tough one to get through because it involves getting people to open your emails.
Increasing web visits by 5% each month was a critical result that required me to publish content regularly. As a result, I was unable to meet this year.
Additionally, I had a far-reaching goal of creating a few mini-courses to bring in leads. I did not complete this at all.
Objective: Write more
Blogging has been a core part of what I do in IT. And I’ve blogged in different domains, but I wanted to write more business-focused content for managers and C-level executives rather than focusing on technical blog posts.
Writing 6 blog posts per quarter is no easy task when you’re doing everything yourself. This key result was never met. There’s a reason why creating a content calendar is key to making this a success.
Growing an email list to 1500 subscribers. A task I did not complete. I had taken down some content downloads because I felt they needed to be updated. But I had not published a new one to be downloaded. Therefore I didn’t make my goal.
Increasing page views on the website to 200k and repurposing blog posts were not met either. This required more published content and reshaping on different platforms such as email and social media. I don’t even know why I had decided on 200k for pageviews. My current website stats weren’t anywhere near 50,000 pageviews. I’ll have to adjust that for 2021.
Objective: Develop an innovative practice
Professional services and reselling vendor hardware didn’t set the business apart from some of the competitors. Many others did the same thing. With Cisco DevNet in my sights, I was feeling confident. I wondered how I could incorporate DevNet into my business.
Python and network automation was the obvious pick to add to my list of services. But getting to that point meant focusing much more time on Python and network automation. But sadly, I did not spend too much time on it.
Rowell Dionicio Website OKRs
2020 was when I decided to move many of my technical and entrepreneur-related content under my own name. Previously, Packet6.com was where I published them but with my shift of keeping Packet6’s website focused on IT managers and decision-makers.
Objective: Build a technical presence
Building a new website means starting from scratch and leveraging Twitter and LinkedIn platforms to draw eyes to it.
Publishing 6 blogs per quarter was a goal to help bring users back to the website. A goal I was able to achieve due to the various topics I started documenting. DevNet Associate, to CCNA, and multiple Wi-Fi-related contents, it was simple to schedule each quarter’s content.
Publishing 2 videos a month on the YouTube channel in my name. Video is more critical today than the written word. But the written word is where SEO is powerful. YouTube is where I want to build more content. Back in high school, I had been part of a video creation class. It reminded me of all the processes I had to go through. I’m still getting used to planning out topics and talking about them in front of a camera.
Building an email list to 500 subscribers. An email list is how I prefer to communicate with people. It’s the one thing I can control. It’s a way I can directly reach out to people. The growth was very, very slow. I’m currently at 67 subscribers with nothing of value to give yet. I haven’t done much planning towards growing the list, which I’ll plan to do in 2021.
Objective: Create products
Being sustainable and creating an income for myself, outside of Packet6, was a tremendous challenge to take on. The direction I wanted to take was to start with courses on the topics I have experience with.
CCNA Course, DevNet Associate Course, and NETCONF Course. All three were never done. Building a course is no easy task. I thought about what kind of courses I would want to take. But I just never made the time for them.
Clear To Send Podcast OKRs
One of my most critical projects is working on Clear To Send. It’s a podcast I started in August 2015. Today, I co-host it with my good friend, François Vergès.
Objective: Grow exposure
Discussing Wi-Fi is really niche. We knew people were using Wi-Fi, but many didn’t really understand how it worked. So we wanted to get more exposure to the podcast and get more listeners.
15k monthly downloads. By increasing our downloads, we would also increase our listeners. This involved discussing topics people really wanted to hear. I’m happy to mention that we were able to accomplish this in July 2020. And we need to ensure we don’t get lazy by continuing to do episodes such as technical deep dives.
400 Slack members. In addition to publishing a weekly episode, we built a community within Slack, where people can discuss Wi-Fi, ask questions, and build friendships. Today, we have achieved this goal.
1500 downloads per newly published episode. We have a trend where people tend to download previous episodes. This number is tied to obtaining new subscribers as well. If we increase our weekly downloads per episode, then we can grow our subscribers. We’re not quite there yet, but we are very close! We’re hovering around 1000-1100 downloads per episode within 7 days.
Objective: Increase social media presence
We rely solely on social media for sharing our episodes and gaining new listeners. We wanted to increase our efforts using social media, be more engaging, and grow the podcast.
3,500 Twitter followers. Twitter is our central social media platform, which has a decent Wi-Fi community. We were very close to making this goal. As of today, we’re at 3,200 Twitter followers.
1,000 LinkedIn followers. If there’s any work to be done, LinkedIn will bring in all the professionals. This year we engaged ourselves more within LinkedIn. In November, we were able to get over 1,000 followers. We continue to see more engagement from different people, which is what we like to see!
50 Patreon supporters. We thought about getting on Patreon, but we just never made the commitment to it. The goal remains untouched, and maybe we’ll look at it again in the future. What we’ve done instead is use Ko-Fi.
What went right?
I never lost hope. With revenue taking a hit at Packet6, I focused on my personal brand and the Clear To Send podcast. The time I spent at home was now on learning and writing. I began creating videos and doing live streams.
One surprise for me was being nominated for Content Contributor of the Year at WiFiAwards.com. Please head there and vote for me!
On the Packet6 side, I also revamped the way my finances were done. By the end of this year, I’ll have saved up $30k.
More than ever, I’ve realized how much small businesses and families need to support each other. I’ve donated to my kids’ schools to help other families.
I’ve supported other small businesses in the Bay Area, especially restaurants, by doing take out. I’ve seen individuals create their own businesses during the pandemic, and I’ve supported their efforts. I appreciate the risks people are taking and watching them pivot. I can see many will flourish next year.
There isn’t a large fortune I’ve been able to amass from 2020. But from what I’ve been able to acquire, I’ve also shared. Whether that has been monetary or other forms of support. We’re all struggling in our own ways, but we have each other.
What can change?
I’ll take what I can get from 2020. There were many key results I wasn’t able to meet, but I’ll adjust for 2021. Planning, quality, and consistency are going to be critical for me.
Much of the results weren’t met simply because I still have a full-time job as a higher education network engineer. I also have a family and need to be present. The choices I make have an impact, whether positive or negative.
The only reason I went down this path, creating a side-hustle and building a personal brand, was so I can eventually work solely for myself.
So when I look back at what can change, I see that health needs to be at the top of that list. I can’t be this busy while living an unhealthy lifestyle. My mind and body need to be in better shape.